America is deep in the throes of its newfound infatuation with dance music, but in the U.K., dance music never really went away; there, clubbing and raving are simply part of growing up. But there, too, the tradition burst fully into the popular consciousness in 2013, topping the charts and dominating the airwaves. Duke Dumont had a No. 1 hit with his deep house single "Need U (100%)," and Disclosure earned two Top 10 slots with "White Noise" and "You & Me"; their first album, Settle, debuted on the British charts at No. 1. Rudimental, a London quartet with jungle roots and magpie tendencies, had instant No. 1s with "Feel the Love" and "Waiting All Night," and their debut album, like Disclosure's, went straight to the top of the charts upon its U.K. release in May. With good reason: Fusing anthemic drum 'n' bass with R&B, deep house and futuristic pop, Home is a masterful album that captures the multicultural zeitgeist of British youth culture in a way similar to Roni Size & Reprazent's New Forms and Massive Attack's Blue Lines.
What's most notable about the new crop of British crossover stars is how different they sound from the main-stage dance acts favored by American ravers. Disclosure, Dumont and Rudimental are all capable of big, powerful sounds, but all of them forgo the programmatic bombast and forced adrenaline rush of big-room EDM in favor of deeper, moodier sounds informed by house and R&B. And those three acts are just the tip of the iceberg. They represent a new wave of British artists exploring savvy, soulful electronic pop and seductive club-music mutations. Explore the rapidly evolving sounds of the U.K. with our playlist and roundup of records from AlunaGeorge, Maya Jane Coles, Breach, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, Huxley, CLOSE and more. And dig a little deeper with Greco-Roman's new compilation We Make Colourful Music Because We Dance in the Dark, featuring Disclosure, Joe Goddard, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and their hip-shaking, pop-loving pals.